As athletes, we need to consume more fluids. When we engage in physical exercise (swimming, cycling, and running), we elevate our body’s temperature, which leads to dehydration, causing fatigue, reduced athletic performance, and risk of heat stress. There is also a risk of muscle cramps when you race or train.
However, if you are properly hydrated, your body will possess the ability to endure and tolerate intense competition. Sports commentators often notice that many athletes are dehydrated before contesting and are disadvantaged before the race.
Firstly, high temperature intensifies body dehydration, so fluid and electrolytes should increase in warm weather. We recommend that you don’t skip any meals because most of the water our body uses come from vegetables and fruits.
Secondly, dehydration affects your performance in training/racing. It also affects your appetite, sleep, and mood. Sometimes you’ll find that you eat more if you don’t sleep properly and during mood swings.
Adequate hydration will allow you to maintain natural muscle contractions and lessen heat stress probability. To do this, concentrate on your fluid intake before, during, and after your competition or training.
Consider the following before your competition/ training
- When did I consume water last? Drink more water is your urine is dark yellow.
- How long is my competition/training session? Carry more water if it’s lengthy.
- Is my session strenuous? Bring more water is your session or competition is rigorous.
- What is the day temperature? If it’s a sunny, hot day, carry more electrolytes and liquids.
- Do I sweat a lot? If you do, then you need more electrolytes in your water.
- What will I drink after my competition/training? If you don’t have easy access to water after exercise, bring a bottle along with you. It’s advisable to drink it within thirty minutes after the race.
Don’t forget individuals are different. The amount of liquid intake you’ll need is different from another person, so use your body conditions to calculate what you need.
Before Your Training/Competition
Don’t drink excess water. It makes you more substantial and uses the toilet more. Besides, it causes hyponatremia, which is a dilution of blood sodium levels and has symptoms of dizziness, headaches, and in acute conditions-unconsciousness and death.
Try to calculate/plan the amount of water you need per hour and take bottles along with you. Don’t race on a heavy stomach. Also, ascertain where refill stations are located on the way and don’t try out new drinks during a race; use a tested liquid you trust.
Throughout the Competition
Regardless of the weather, you will probably sweat, but in the hot climate, you’ll lose more electrolytes and fluid through sweats. Don’t gulp down water at once. Take more sips of water to avoid a decline in your progress. Add electrolyte tablets to your drink and take sips of water throughout the race.
Use your sweat rate to calculate how much you need before the race. Natural water is the best and a big plus, but any sports drink, tablets, or powder with sodium, carbohydrates, and potassium Is excellent. If you can, carry a bottle of water and a sports drink.
After the race, you need to restore and top up electrolytes and liquids. Drink sodium infused liquids to improve water and carbohydrate absorption into the intestines and decrease urine after your exercise or race.
If appropriately hydrated before and during your race, you won’t be thirsty, but if you are, then take more water.
Track your urine color to ascertain if your body is hydrated correctly. Correct urine should be straw-colored or light yellow. Dark yellow urine often identifies dehydration. (Although some foods and supplements also change urine color}. Salt and electrolyte tablets inhibit cramps, so using them during and after the race is a good idea.
To determine sweat loss, you’ll need a pre and after race/exercise weight:
- Pre-exercise weight: weigh yourself with an empty bladder near the beginning of your activity.
- Post-exercise weight: weigh yourself after you clean off sweat from your body and calculate the weight difference.
The difference will tell you how much body liquid you’ve lost and the difference between your fluid intake and sweat losses. Besides, you will easily monitor/track sweat losses this way and how much you need to drink for subsequent races or training.
In conclusion, athletes are distinct, so there isn’t a necessary prerequisite hydration rule or guide for a triathlon. Your hydration may depend on gender, weight, temperature, speed, and muscle mass.
Consume more of salty snacks before the race. Check your urine color, don’t overdrink, and add electrolytes like sodium into your water. Finally, use exercise sessions to create a hydration plan for competitions.